#ShameOnKeya: How Indian Brands Are Still Ignorant About Social Media

Keya restaurant in Delhi denied entry to Nipun Malhotra on the grounds that it isn't for disabled people. #ShameOnKeya trending has forced it to join social media finally. We look at how the incident also highlights the ignorance of social media by brands

Keya_New_Delhi #ShameOnKeya

A long weekend is what most restaurants desire for serving more orders and making more profit. No restaurant owner, even in his wildest nightmare, would like to break his head on fire fighting a social media backlash on a long weekend. But Keya restaurant at DLF Promenade Mall in Vasant Kunj, Delhi has had to do this after #ShameOnKeya began trending on Twitter from the early part of the day.

#ShameOnKeya

Nipun Malhotra, the co-founder of the Nipman Foundation, alleged that the security at Keya restaurant stopped him when he arrived there with his brother around 9 pm on Friday to join eight other friends for dinner. On being asked why he was being refused entry Nipun  said to NDTV that the security told him they don’t allow people on wheelchair as a policy”. He also alleged that the security “started pulling” his wheelchair.

A physically challenged activist Nipun went on Twitter to share his story which finally led to trending #ShameOnKeya.

Twitter users were quick to support Nipun and the hashtag has been noticed by our active politicians on Twitter. AAP’s  Manish Sisodia who is taking care of Delhi right now has already ordered an inquiry into the matter. The below tweets reflect public frustration and support for Nipun.

The restaurant has also faced a beating on its Zomato ratings, reviews are no more about the good food and ambiance of Keya but they are talking about the arrogant behavior towards Nipun.

#KeyaClarifies

Meanwhile, in an attempt to fight with the growing negative beating on social media, Keya came up with another side of the controversy. Denying the allegations made by Nipun, the restaurant has shared its side of the story on Twitter using #KeyaClarifies. In a series of tweets Keya said , “Today being Holi, we were denying stag entries, & you were part of a stag group that was turned away.” It further addressed Nipun, “Sir, Keya is a disabled friendly restaurant & we never deny entry to anyone for being differently abled ”

Nipun, born with Arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that leads to lack of muscles in arms and legs, is shocked with the change in attitude from Keya. “I had to point out to him that if you don’t allow stag entries, then how do I have eight friends inside out of which there are five boys and three girls?”

Brands still don’t get social media!

The incident has once again highlighted the real face of our society where we treat disabled persons differently. While investigation reports are going to be submitted by Monday, the shameful incident has also highlighted that established and renowned restaurants are still ignoring social media.

A posh restaurant and pub in an upscale mall in south Delhi, Keya has no social media presence. Apart from a Zomato listing, the brand has ignored social networking sites. While it is unclear right now why Keya had chosen to stay away from social media, it has a Twitter account now with 21 followers and 7 tweets to combat #ShameOnKeya.

Why join Twitter on a day when your brand’s reputation is already sacrificed?

It is a known fact that social media is not only about promotions and keeping your customers updated but an effective social media presence could work as a weapon to disseminate the positive sentiments. Let’s assume for once that the investigations reveal Keya as a winner but its reputation has already been sacrificed. When you search for the restaurant you are shown the negative reviews on Zomato and with all the major media covering the news, the brand has got a good beating on a weekend.

If Keya had an effective social media presence, then it could have used its community to spread the message and gain more eyeballs. But looks like Keya has woken up to the powers of social media really late. The damage is already done!

This isn’t the first time that a restaurant had to face a customer’s heat powered by social media. The case of Gurgaon based Lemp Brewpub & Kitchen disaster was a classic case of how the brand despite being present on social media failed to understanding the medium. The latest example of mishandling online reputation by Air India after a video highlighting its insensitivity in dealing with passengers went viral, shows how a cash-strapped national carrier was caught napping under a poor communication strategy.

Keya is a classic case of online reputation management where the brand joins social media on the day when its trending for all the wrong reasons. You can’t implement fire fighting solutions when your house is already on fire.